Mage Gauntlet, a new action-RPG from Rocketcat Games, just became available from the app store. A departure from the rope-swinging titles that Rocketcat is best known for, Mage Gauntlet retains the same graphic style and polished gameplay that we’ve come to expect, making this a compelling pick-up.
Mage Gauntlet Pros:
- Terrific retro graphics that recreate feeling of playing RPGs from decades ago
- Plenty of levels, variety of environments and enemies
- Collectible hats and pets
- Action-oriented gameplay that doesn’t focus on grinding
- GameCenter and OpenFeint integration for tons of achievements to earn
Mage Gauntlet Cons:
- Some control quirkiness that leaves us facing wrong direction from time to time
- Not always clear what your goal is
- Music loop can jar us out of the experience
Inspired by old-school games like Zelda, Mage Gauntlet does away with the grinding nature of RPGs, trading tedious fetch quests for more exciting combat and story progression. You play as a young woman with an odd affliction: anything magical that she comes into contact with is destroyed. Ostracized by her peers and community, she seeks out Whitebeard, a wizard known for banishing an evil spirit to the Dark Realm and keeping him there despite his renewed strength and efforts to escape. While dismissive of the young girl at first, Whitebeard eventually takes her under his wing and agrees to help her, outfitting her with a special gauntlet that allows her to focus her powers. Much of the story is pretty standard, but it does help to see the motivation behind the actions.
The girl traverses 42 levels of play in Normal mode, replayable in Master mode once completed to engage more enemies. As you wander through the environments, destroy flora, and open chests, you’ll acquire new gear to equip your character and improve her standing across a variety of attributes. As you might expect from Rocketcat, hats play a role in the game, with 110 to be collected. There are even 19 pets that can assist you by incurring bonuses. The action is frequent and fun, as you’ll often find yourself battling hordes of baddies and using your dash and charge powers to quickly escape or barrel through obstacles. There are also 4 spell slots that give you easy access to spells for use against enemies. You have 3 hearts worth of health, with a half-heart getting dinged each time you come into contact with an opponent. Many of the environmental objects are destructible or moveable, which may reveal a secret every now and again. It all blends to create a fun experience that quickly draws you in, whether you intended to be or not.
Graphically, the retro look is always nice to see in this type of game, as it harkens back to the early days and hits us right in the nostalgia zone. Menus are easy to navigate and the worlds show a nice level of detail and variety. Enemies differ in attack styles and strength, keeping you on your toes. The audio is very good, too, using chimes to set a pleasing mood, though the loop doesn’t flow back into itself all that well. It tends to pull you out of the experience when it restarts. There are 3 control options, but we found the Pro Stick to be our favorite. It causes an invisible joypad to appear beneath your finger and movements are caused by minor drags of your thumb. We did find that we wouldn’t always be facing the right direction to damage opponents, though, which required some small adjustments while costing us hearts. It’s a minor annoyance, but it exists all the same. There is an attack button to fight enemies, which you’ll need to mash when overwhelmed or hold for a more powerful attack. Above the attack button is a dash button for quickly running over enemies or speeding through obstacles. The button in the upper right corner accesses your spells and other info about your character.
Replay value is good, as there are a ton of collectibles to go after. OpenFeint and GameCenter integration allow for 86 achievements to earn, so you’ll have plenty to shoot for in that realm, as well. A universal app priced at $1.99 at launch (it will go up to its regular price of $2.99 after opening weekend), you can also earn an Early Buyer Bonus if you pick it up before Sunday. You’ll receive 8 hats from their previous games, plus a bonus pet. Since Rocketcat typically doesn’t ever discount their games, there likely won’t be a better time to buy than right now. Mage Gauntlet is a solid 4-Dimple adventure.
Mage Gauntlet Review,